Warren Central taking familiar road

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 14, 2002

Henry Williams, one half of Warren Central’s deadly running attack, blows past a Liberty-Eylau defender in the first game of the season. (The Vicksburg Post/C. Todd Sherman)

[11/14/02]Warren Central has been down this road before.

It doesn’t matter whether the bus travels on Mississippi 25, 12 or U.S. 82, the Vikings will end up at Starkville High School.

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Heck, the amount of times these two schools have hooked up, the bus might be able to drive itself to Yellowjacket Stadium.

In five of the last seven years, Starkville has knocked Warren Central out of the playoffs, including last season’s second-round loss.

Unlike last season, though, Starkville has a new coach and a completely retooled defense.

“They are just as good as any of them,” Warren Central coach Robert Morgan said of the competitive Region 1-5A. “They could have beaten (South) Panola, so they are good. Very good.”

First-year coach Ronnie Cuevas, who came to Starkville from Gulfport, is no stranger to playing against Morgan. Warren Central beat Gulfport, 17-0, in 1988 en route to the Vikings’ first state championship.

Despite the less-than-successful recent history at Starkville, the Vikings can put themselves in position to stay at home for a while with a win.

If WC beats Starkville, it would host either Clinton or Southaven in the second round, then would have a good shot at hosting the North State championship.

But they’ll have to find a way to stop a skid that has seen WC drop three straight games.

“I don’t know if it has ever happened,” Morgan said when asked when the last time his team lost four in a row. “Let’s hope it’s not now.”

The Vikings will look to get their powerful running attack back after rushing for 52 yards in a 27-12 loss to Vicksburg on Friday night. Standout Richmond Fields and Henry Williams will both play key roles, Morgan said.

Starkville graduated standout quarterback DeAngelo Dantzler and Tee Milons off of last year’s state championship team, but still have running back Xavier Collins and a formidable offensive line.

“They don’t have the quarterback and they are not putting up points like they did last year,” Morgan said. “They are still very solid.”

Heath Grant, son of Mississippi State strength and conditioning coach Mike Grant, leads a young, but very aggressive Yellowjacket defense.

“They run the same defense, just different personnel,” Morgan said.

Starkville is coming off a 9-7 win over Columbus and needed three Zach Bost field goals to win the game. Since opening Yellowjacket Stadium, Starkville is 24-3, but two of those losses have come this season.

“We just want to win a ballgame,” Morgan said. “It’s like taking a big dose of medicine, it would help us out a lot.”